Can Password Storage Vault Software Protect My Identity Online?
We’ve all been there. You try to log into a website you haven’t visited in a while and can’t for the life of you remember what password you used. There’s nothing more irritating than trying every mixture of your birthday, hometown and dog’s name, only to keep getting notices that your attempts have all been incorrect. Aside from writing your passwords down and carrying them around in your wallet — which you definitely shouldn’t do — what options exist to keep you from losing track of your login details?
Password storage vault software is specifically designed to prevent this scenario by keeping your passwords secure yet accessible. But does the simplicity these password-saving programs offer come with a security trade-off? Let’s take a closer look into how they work and how they can help you.
What Is Online Password Storage, and How Does It Work?
A password storage vault, also known as a password keeper or password saver program, is designed to store usernames and passwords you use across various devices. Rather than remembering each individual password, not to mention the username you chose for every website you frequent, a password saver only requires that you remember one username and its corresponding password. This is known as the “master password.” Once you enter it into the storage software, the password keeper then automatically fills in the login information for every other site you’ve linked to it.
Not only is this a handy trade-off, but it can also come with a few other perks. You know how when you go to sign up for an account at a new website, it’ll often suggest a complicated password that looks like a jumble of letters and numbers? While it probably is more secure than using your cat’s name or the street you grew up on, it also looks impossible to remember without writing it down. For this reason, most people end up opting for much less secure passwords — ones that they likely use across a variety of different accounts.
Unfortunately, this can make it much easier for hackers to gain access to your entire system just by learning a single password. When you use password protection software instead, you can start using those complicated-yet-secure passwords sites recommend. The password vault program remembers all of them so you don’t have to.
Is Password Vaulting Safe?
Password vaults may sound convenient — and they are — but is it safe to trust yours to a password saver program? As long as you choose a reputable vault, password keepers actually have a lot going for them as far as security is concerned. Without your master password, it can be difficult for a hacker to crack your system. Most reputable password keepers also offer additional security measures, such as two-factor authentication or biometric authentication that requires a face scan or thumbprint.
The next security strength of password protection software comes down to encryption. Many of these vaults use AES 256-bit encryption, which is the military standard. AES, or Advanced Encryption Standards, encode your information before it ever even leaves your device. As a result, it becomes virtually impossible to unscramble without logging in with your master password, to the point that even the provider doesn’t have access to it.
Even if you aren’t worried about your software provider having shaky morals, it’s nice to know that your information would still be safe if its server were somehow hacked.
Advantages of Using a Password Storage Vault
It’s likely that you already use a rudimentary password storage system of some sort, simply because many web browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox now automatically integrate them as options. While these are an excellent place to start, they’re designed more for convenience than security.
Many of the pros and cons of various password vaults come down to which software you choose to use. In other words, what’s true for one may not be true for a competitor. Here are some of the pros that can come along with choosing the best password-saver program software:
- Strong encryption makes them virtually impossible to hack.
- They sync across various devices.
- They include password generators to suggest strong passwords.
- They allow you to avoid using the same passwords for everything.
- Periodic reminders help you update your passwords.
- Biometric authentication adds extra security.
- Security alerts help you manage risk.
- Cloud-based vaults provide backups.
- They allow you to securely store logins, credit card numbers and other sensitive financial information.
- They’re great for businesses because they protect against the threat of weak employee passwords.
Disadvantages of Using a Password Storage Vault
As you can see, there are plenty of advantages to using a reputable password keeper, but what about the cons? Some of the cons of a password keeper come down to which one you choose, while others are standard across the board. While some password keepers are better than others, no software is perfect.
- Great encryption is essential for any password storage vault and is something you’ll want to verify before selecting a password keeper.
- Some vaults don’t offer backups, which can be a disaster if your server breaks down. In this case, your only hope is a backup copy that you’ve either created yourself or can get from your provider.
- While the odds of being hacked drop substantially when using a password vault, the system can present problems if you are hacked. The time it takes to secure or change all your passwords can leave the door open long enough for a hacker to do serious damage.
- Malware is an issue and can record your master password if your device is infected.
- Biometric authentication is always an excellent added precaution, but not all vaults offer it.
- Forgetting your master password is something you want to avoid, as its primary purpose is to give you — and only you — access to your system. When in doubt, write it down and store it somewhere secure and inaccessible, such as a safety deposit box.
Top-Rated Password Storage Vaults
While it’s always important to do your own research, we’ll help you get started with a list of some of the best password managers currently available:
Not sure which to choose? Check out this comparison chart from PC Mag that provides a side-by-side rundown of several options. It can help give you an idea of the cost of each option and the unique features it offers to determine the best vault for your needs.